This has to be a picture-less post, because I simply could not find a picture appropriate to this topic...
Fairly explicit post below - so be forewarned if you get squeamish about nursing.
Mastitis and Plugged Milk Ducts - the dreaded duo of nursing mothers.
I have never had Mastitis (yes, I KNOW I'm lucky - I'm sorry if you've ever had it, from what I understand it is dreadful). However, I've had plenty of clogged milk ducts. Especially in the last 3 weeks, and they can be VERY painful.
With all my kids I remain clog free for the first 4-6 months of nursing. Probably due to the fact that they are nursing more frequently and they still nurse through the night. But those plugged ducts always rear their ugly heads. Luckily, they usually ease up and go away around 9 months (at least for me).
This time has been no exception. I started getting my plugged ducts about a month ago. They have escalated BADLY this time to the point where I have been getting them every couple days, and some times on a daily basis. It's ridiculous friends...
This is most likely due to the fact that my baby is now sleeping through the night and I have an inordinate amount of milk at 3:00 or 4:00 AM. I have to get up and pump out a couple of ounces just to ease up the pressure and be able to go back to sleep. I'm hoping I'll stop producing in the night EVENTUALLY. SIGH.
In any case, in my desperation I have found some tricks that have helped me. So here we go...
1 - Make sure your bra/shirts are not too tight. Sometimes when I have a bad clog I'll take my bra off at around 8:00 after we are all winding down. That gives me a few hours at night without it pressing on my clogs and sometimes this is all I need to get it unstuck.
2 - Nurse the sore side FIRST. The baby's suck is stronger when he/she is hungry. If you feel like your baby didn't get all the milk out - put your pump on for just 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is cleared out.
3 - Dangle nurse. This is a weird trick and is new to me this time. The suggestion I read recommended laying your baby on the floor and kneeling over the top so as to use gravity to force the clog out. I found it was just as effective to sit cross legged with the baby on my lap and to lean over. This REALLY helped though. A couple of sessions of dangle nursing are sometimes all it takes to get the clog out.
4 - Apply heat. Take a warm shower and try to massage where it is sore (I know, it hurts). Or heat up a bean bag about 5 minutes before you feed the baby and apply it to the sore side. Then massage for about 30 seconds before you start feeding. This is a life saver.
5 - Garlic. I've read that you should eat a lot of it, though that's not the trick I've tried. My SIL gave me the advice of putting a raw garlic clove in my bra. This works great for me. I find a HUGE garlic clove, peel it and set it right next to the clog. For some reason this works - I swear.
6 - To prevent future clogs take Lecithin. This is a LARGE capsule that you can find in pretty much any store that sells medicine. The bottles aren't too expensive and they come with 100 capsules. Kelly mom recommends taking 3-4 capsules per day until you go a few weeks without clogs, then you can reduce it by one capsule, eventually working down to one. There are no ill effects for babies or nursing mothers.
If I use these tricks I can generally get a plugged milk duct cleared up in under 24 hours, though I've had some nasty ones that lasted for DAYS (maybe even a week).
For other suggestions see the Kelly Mom website.
Now for your input...
What do you do for plugged milk ducts?
What do you do for mastitis?
Share your horror/success stories!
And one more thing... how do I get rid of all the milk I'm making in the night????